The surviving teenagers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida are holding the feet of the NRA to the fire. A huge number of politicians, it seems, owe loyalty the National Rifle Association. Because the NRA — and other gun rights organizations — have donated ungodly amounts of money to their campaigns.
The teens from Parkland are having none of it.
Those politicians strongly deny that they’re in the NRA’s back pocket. Because of course they do. Never mind that they’ve accepted millions and millions of dollars from the NRA over the years. They may or may not be owned by the NRA, but if any legislation comes down the pike that calls for stricter gun regulations, you can take it to the bank that those Senators and Congressmen will vote it down. Every time.
Dear responsible gun owners: No one is trying to take your weapons away.
What the Parkland survivors (and anyone with a conscience) are trying to do is keep the most powerful guns out of the hands of crazy people who are only too happy to use them. If that means a background check… How does that affect you, exactly? If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Being against background checks only makes you look guilty.
And yet… NRA-backed politicians have voted down background checks a bat$#!+ crazy number of times.
Maybe they think it’s unfair to punish everyone because of the wrongdoings of a few… But why do they think all of the other laws in this country exist? Laws are passed because some idiot always finds a way to exploit or abuse the system, so Congress had no choice but to put something in writing to stop them. If that means stricter rules for everyone else to conform to, well, it’s better than allowing the bad guys to kill, steal, and destroy.
Why should any private citizen be allowed to own automatic or semi-automatic weapons? Surely this is not what the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the 2nd Amendment — because they couldn’t conceive of weapons powerful enough to spray bullets at victims! These kinds of guns have military uses, but allowing anyone to own them, no questions asked, makes it far too easy for unstable people with a grudge to commit mass murder. The last few years have proven this dozens of times over.
Right now, in many parts of the country, anyone can walk into any store and buy any gun they want, no restrictions, no conditions. How dare we even suggest trying to regulate access to these things! So what if they’re only good for killing. A car can be just as dangerous as a gun, after all!
Guess what? We DO regulate who can and can’t drive a car! You have to pass driving tests and follow driving laws, or you lose your license. Your ID is checked to determine your age before you can buy alcohol. You have to have a freaking membership card to check books out of the library!
Yet the federal government stubbornly refuses to do anything to regulate gun ownership. The only thing standing between you and owning a gun is a license, and those are regulated on a state-by-state basis. New York, for example, makes it harder than most to obtain a gun permit or license, requiring you to pass a background check that investigates your criminal record, your mental condition, and even your “moral character.”
Other places like Florida, as many of us learned recently, will let you buy a gun under almost any circumstances. You can be a dangerous, homicidal, teenage nutjob and Walmart will still be only too happy to sell you a semi-automatic rifle.
Does that seem right to you? Want to do something about it?
As long as NRA-backed politicians control the Senate and the House of Representatives, nothing will ever be done to regulate gun ownership and use. If you want to see real change, it’s time for those politicians to go.
So let’s vote out the greedy goobers in Congress who giddily take the NRA’s money while sending out “thoughts and prayers” every time there’s a gun-related massacre. As if the two aren’t related!
Here’s a little cheat sheet for how and who.
Disclaimer: Political parties should really be irrelevant when it comes to this issue. Who cares about Republicans vs. Democrats when kids are dying? But the facts are what they are, and around 95% of NRA-funded politicians are Republicans. Whatever your political affiliation, it’s time to erase party lines and consider what’s best for our children.
2018 is an election year. This November, the House of Representatives will start over with a clean slate, just as it does every two years. All of the 435 Congressmen and women have to be reelected by the voters in their district after two years of service. That’s how the House was made to work.
Today, NRA-funded Republicans hold a commanding majority in the House, filling 241 seats. Democrats are in the minority with 194. The magic number for gaining control is 218. Whichever party holds 218 or more seats becomes the House majority and can effectively control which laws get passed (assuming the President doesn’t veto them — and we’ll get back to him in a minute, don’t you worry).
Do the math, and this means that if Democrats manage to hold onto all 194 seats they currently have, they need to take an additional 24 seats from Republicans in order to gain the majority. Not easy, but doable.
Over in the Senate, 33 of the 100 Senators have terms that are ending this year. (Senators serve 6-year terms.) Of the 33 Senate seats up for grabs, just 8 of them are held by Republicans. Five are seeking reelection; three are retiring from public service. Fortunately, 8 seats is more than enough to shift the balance of power. Republicans hold a very slim majority, filling 51 seats, while the Dems have 47. (The remaining 2 are held by Independent Senators.) To take control away from the NRA-loving Republicans, Democrats need to add at least 4 Senators to their roster.
If you want to do something about that, check below to see if you live in one of the 8 states listed here. If so, you’ll find the corresponding Republican Senator who’s retiring or whose term is up. Beside each name is listed exactly how much money that Senator has accepted from the NRA over the course of their career. Just for, you know… reference.
It’s hard to dislike Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. He’s a Republican but a very outspoken Trump critic, a man who holds Trump’s feet to the fire on a regular basis. Too bad he’s retiring when his current term ends in January of 2019. A Senator who doesn’t tow the party line, Flake prefers to legislate according to his conscience. That said, he’s taken more donations from the NRA than anyone else whose term is ending this year: more than $365,000 over the course of his career.
The race to replace Flake is a wild one. There’s a trio of wildly varied Republicans versus a lone Democrat who has an early lead. The establishment Republican candidate of choice is Martha McSally, the first female combat pilot in American history. She’s not the most enthusiastic of Trump supporters, but has fallen in line behind the President of late. She’s seen as most the likely Republican nominee.
Then there’s Kelli Ward, a far-right conservative and a doctor endorsed by Trump himself. Ward follows very closely in Trump’s footsteps on all the major issues — especially his xenophobic, nationalist tendencies. She’s already actively attacking McSally for not conforming to Trump’s full ideology.
Complicating things is former sheriff Joe Arpaio, a personal friend of Trump’s who the President pardoned last year in a highly publicized and controversial move. Arpaio was guilty of illegal racial profiling, and was convicted of contempt of court for ignoring the judge’s orders to stop. Until Trump stepped in.
Sitting comfy on the left is Kyrsten Sinema, a Mormon (like Flake) who tends to vote more moderately than her fellow Democrats.
Wicker is basically owned by special interest groups. Aside from the $89k he’s received from gun lobbies like the NRA, he’s received in excess of $200k from the oil and gas industry. Which explains why he denies that climate change is real and was a strong supporter of President Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. He’s also a hardliner on gun rights, consistently voting down any and all legislation that could curb the 2nd Amendment in any way. Unsurprisingly, he has an NRA rating of A+. He also opposes Syrian refugees entering Mississippi.
At press time, Jensen Bohren is Wicker’s primary Democratic opponent. The little-known Bohren describes himself as a progressive “Berniecrat,” meaning his ideals line up strongly with those of former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. He’s running a very grassroots campaign, reportedly having raised very little money to fund it. Everybody loves an underdog, but the people of Mississippi seem to love Roger Wicker, and he’s expected to win his re-election without any major hurdles.
Fischer is the kind of conservative that liberals love to hate. In addition to her no-compromise views on gun rights (she’s rated A+ by the NRA), she’s opposed to the DREAM Act, believes the EPA should be eliminated, and wants to repeal Obamacare. In other words, she’s a strong Trump disciple.
Running against Fischer is Democrat candidate Jane Raybould from the city of Lincoln, where she serves on the City Council. She describes herself as “a devoted Catholic,” and seems to have a particular interest in healthcare and tax reform. She’s Vice President at the local grocery chain her parents started half a century ago. Nebraska is pretty solidly Republican territory, so Fischer is likely to be reelected unless Raybould can capitalize on the anti-gun momentum coming out of Florida.
One of the most moderate Republicans on this list, Dean Heller is a study in thoughtful contradictions. For example, he voted to repeal Obamacare, but also voted against its ill-advised “replacement,” the American Health Care Act. He opposes the DREAM Act, but denounced Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the country. He’s against gay marriage, but approves of Social Security benefits for married gay couples. He also supported President Obama’s attempts to end the bad blood between the U.S. and Cuba. But he’s a major supporter of gun rights, and has and will vote against any and all gun control legislation.
Politico ranks Heller’s 2018 run against Democrat Jacky Rosen as the “top Senate race of 2018,” because it’s one of the few contests where Republicans are almost guaranteed to lose a Senate seat. Rosen is currently a Congresswoman for Nevada and wants to flip this seat from to blue to red to oppose Trump’s “hatred, bigotry, and narcissism.” Works for me.
Corker is a Republican who hasn’t always conformed to the establishment’s wishes. While his record on most issues lines up with conservative values, he’s not been afraid to go against his colleagues if he thinks he’s right. Case in point: since the 2016 election, Corker has become one of the most outspoken critics of Donald Trump. But this is mostly a moot point, since Corker is retiring, not seeking reelection in 2018.
Representative Marsha Blackburn is the most likely Republican candidate in the running, and she’ll probably be facing off against former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. Bredesen, a moderate Democrat, is expected to get plenty of grassroots support, while Blackburn has received sponsor funding to the tune of multiple millions of dollars. Blackburn is the early favorite to win, but anything can happen.
Ted Cruz is, aside from a former Presidential nominee, something of a Republican anomaly. Unpopular among his peers in the Senate (John McCain once called him a “wacko bird”), he became known during his first term for speaking out against any Democrat or Republican who fell short of his ideals. He was just as critical of Mitch McConnell, for example, as he was of President Obama. And he REALLY didn’t like Obama.
He’s also known for saying outrageous things when the impulse strikes. He once stated during an interview that “the simple and undeniable fact is the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats,” and then suggested that Dems are soft on crime because they believe felons vote Democrat. A year later, he blamed President Obama for the Orlando nightclub shooting.
He wrote one of the earliest bills that attempted to repeal Obamacare, and contributed to the failed ACHA “repeal and replace” bill that President Trump touted during his first year in office. Cruz soundly rejects climate change as a reality, and has been a hardcore proponent of oil, gas, and coal legislation that will be detrimental to the environment. He does not support DREAMers (despite being the son of an immigrant himself), and is very strongly against any form of gun control.
For his first re-election campaign, Cruz is running against Beto O’Rourke, a current Democratic member of the House of Representatives. O’Rourke stands for basically the opposite of everything Cruz supports, including gun control. In June of 2016, he took part in a “sit-in” at the House by 60 Democrats that wanted to force a vote on gun control after the Orlando nightclub shooting. (It didn’t work.) Cruz remains popular in Texas, so O’Rourke’s chances are currently considered a long shot.
Retiring after his current term ends, Orrin Hatch holds the distinction of being the longest-serving Republican Senator in United States history, having been consecutively re-elected for more than 40 years. Perhaps his departure is why he recently threw caution to the wind and declared supporters of Obamacare to be “the stupidest dumbass people” ever. Tells you all you really need to know, doesn’t it?
70-year-old Mitt Romney is Hatch’s hand-picked successor. Romney was previously the Governor of Massachusetts, and tows the party line on all the major issues — even if he’s not very well liked among his fellow Republicans. Romney will most likely face Jenny Wilson, a Democrat with strong interests in “health, mental health parity, and substance abuse.”
Seeking a third term in November, Barrasso is as strongly conservative as a legislator can get. He’s staunchly Pro-Life, yet sees no disconnect with owning high-powered guns that are good only for killing. He voted against Obamacare, and helped write the horrendous AHCA that tried to replace it. His rejection of climate change is well documented, and he was one of the 22 Senators who asked President Trump in writing to dump the Paris Agreement. (His campaigns have received a truckload of cash from oil and gas companies over the years. What a coincidence.) His record shows that he has an A rating with the NRA, and is opposed to background checks.
Wyoming is hardcore Republican territory, so nobody really expects Democratic challenger Gary Trauner to stand much of a chance. There’s also a wildcard in the form of David Dodson, a “Reagan Republican” who’s running as an Independent. A wealthy entrepreneur, Dodson is financing his own campaign and running on a platform that says Barrasso has failed the state, settled for playing politics in DC, and forgotten what he was elected for. Barring a major upset, Barrasso will probably retain his seat.
Remember, you don’t have to live in one of these 8 states to vote for Representatives in the House. Everyone does that. There are also races for Governors and state Houses where there are several opportunities to change the balance of power. But the primary place to change gun control laws is the cesspool of power that is Congress.
And consider this. You think President Trump is unhinged now? Give him a completely Democrat-controlled Congress for the second half of his term and watch what happens. The entertainment value alone makes that worthwhile.
Speaking of the Bully-in-Chief, you may be wondering how much money the NRA stuffed in his already-rich pockets during the election. They spent $11.4 million supporting Trump’s campaign, while $19.7 million was spent on anti-Hillary propaganda, which Mr. Trump certainly benefited from. That means the total amount of money the NRA invested in making Donald Trump our President was more than $31 million.
Thirty. One. Million. Dollars.
Imagine what $31 million could do if it was put toward programs for stopping violence in schools? Think of what it could do if donated to the homeless and the hungry? Imagine how many lives that kind of money could save if given to children’s hospitals like Brenner’s or Shriners.
But the NRA would rather use it to make sure that they get to keep their precious guns — even if the cost is the safety and lives of your children.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing any of us can do about Trump for another three years. But at the end of this year, we can make it a whole lot easier for Congress to pass legislation and put pressure on the President to do something about gun violence. The kids from Parkland are taking the lead on this. All we have to do is follow their example.
Only two entities contributed more to Trump’s campaign than the NRA — a SuperPAC called “Great America PAC” and the Republican National Committee.
Those 8 Senators listed above are just a tiny fraction of the politicians who’ve taken money from the NRA. Of those currently in office in Washington, approximately 270 are NRA-funded.
Here’s a list of other politicians who’ve raked in major bucks to the tune of more than $1 million from the NRA over the years. Included are the amount they’ve received along with the NRA’s grade for each candidate. The higher the grade (“A+” being the highest), the more the stricter a candidate is deemed to be at opposing gun control laws. As you might imagine, gun control supporters tend to receive “F”s.
Senator from Arizona for 31 years (+4 years in the House of Representatives)
NRA Funding: $7.74 million | NRA Rating: B+
Personal Net Worth: $21 million
John McCain Senate Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
John McCain is famous for many things. The 5.5 years he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, where he endured brutal tortures that affect his body to this day. His ill-fated 2008 presidential campaign against Barrack Obama that was run alongside oddball running mate Sarah Palin. His “maverick” political style, where he hews closely to Conservative values but refuses to tow the party line. His temper. His massive intake of funds from the NRA owes as much to his 31 years as a Senator as it does the strength of his 2nd Amendment beliefs. He does support gun rights — not surprising given his military background — but in recent years, he’s shown willingness to consider banning assault weapons and beefing up background checks. John McCain will be up for re-election in 2022, but given his recent health issues, it remains to be seen if he will run again.
Senator from North Carolina for 13 years (+10 years in the House of Representatives)
NRA Funding: $6.99 million | NRA Rating: A+
Personal Net Worth: $3,132,848 (as of 2015)
Richard Burr Senate Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Burr is a conservative with moderate leanings, and has never been shy about standing up in opposition to his party when his convictions clashed with the Republican platform. He’s one of the few conservative leaders who believes in climate change, and voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. But he’s a serious Trump follower, having been the Donald’s national security advisor during the election campaign. And he’s very strongly opposed to any bill that regulates gun rights. Richard Burr will be up for reelection in 2022.
Senator from Missouri for 7 years (+14 years in the House of Representatives)
NRA Funding: $_4.55 million | NRA Rating: A
Personal Net Worth: $4,946,509 (as of 2016)
Roy Blunt Senate Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
A mainline conservative, Blunt tows the Republican party line at every opportunity. As you might guess, he’s voted against anything gun control-related throughout his entire 21-year political career. Roy Blunt is expected to campaign for reelection in 2022.
Tillis is a first-term Senator from North Carolina (alongside fellow gun supporter Richard Burr) with a seemingly closed mind when it comes to anything remotely close to gun control. He’s up for reelection just two years from now.
Another first term Senator, Colorado’s Cory Gardner is a semi-moderate Republican with a strong interest in climate change (yes, he believes it’s real). He’s largely in favor of strengthening U.S. borders, and he was vocal in his disagreement with President Trump’s attended universal ban on Muslims. On the flip side, he helped write AHCA, aka the attempted replacement for Obamacare, and stubbornly refuses to change his mind about restricting gun access in any way, even in the face of the recent mass shootings in Parkland, Florida, nearby Las Vegas, and a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. He’s up for reelection in 2020.
Rubio is best known for being an outspoken opponent of Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, and then becoming a (reluctant?) supporter of the President when he faced down Hillary Clinton and beyond. He had the guts to turn up at the CNN town hall where the Stoneman Douglas High School students, just days after the school’s massacre, verbally bludgeoned him on his 2nd Amendment beliefs — which he did not change. Surely that had nothing to do with the $3.3 million he’s received from the NRA. Marco Rubio will no doubt run for reelection in 2022.
As the first female combat veteran to take become a Senator in U.S. history, you want to like Iowa’s Joni Ernst. She won her first Congressional election largely thanks to a kooky TV ad that referenced hog castration. (Seriously.) But she was a staunch critic of President Obama, and has become a faithful member of the Cult of Trump. She’s eligible for reelection in 2020.
Portman, a millionaire to the tune of close to $15 million, follows the standard Republican playbook in every way, with one major exception: he’s not in love with Donald Trump. He is, however, in love with guns, with his campaign raking in over $3 million from the NRA. Rob Portman will be available for reelection in 2022.
Senator from Indiana for 1 year (+6 years in the House of Representatives)
NRA Funding: $2.89 million | NRA Rating: A+
Personal Net Worth: $858,004 (as of 2015)
Todd Young Senate Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Oo-rah! Senator Young is a five-year veteran of the Marines, and a current first term Senator. He’s had a mostly unremarkable career thus far (he’s only been in office for a year) but his NRA grade and funding tell you all you need to know. Todd Young will run for reelection in 2022.
Senator from Louisiana for 3 years (+6 years in the House of Representatives)
NRA Funding: $2.86 million | NRA Rating: A
Personal Net Worth: $2,004,021 (as of 2015)
Bill Cassidy Senate Website | Facebook | Twitter
This guy is probably best known for telling late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel that any bill that comes forth to repeal or replace Obamacare he would put to the “Jimmy Kimmel test.” Cassidy was referring to Kimmel’s on-air diatribe against the U.S. government wanting to take healthcare away from millions of Americans, a cause that became more personal to Kimmel after his own experiences with his newborn son. And then he turned around and voted yes on the AHCA, the Republican bill that would have eliminated healthcare from 20 million citizens (a fact that caused tremendous ire in Kimmel). He’s a first-term Senator up for reelection in 2020.
Senator from Arkansas for 3 years (+2 years in the House of Representatives)
NRA Funding: $1.96 million | NRA Rating: A
Personal Net Worth: $425,511 (as of 2015)
Tom Cotton Senate Website | Facebook | Twitter
Mad respect where it’s due: Senator Tom Cotton is an Army veteran who fought in both Afghanistan and the Iraq War. That said, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the NRA loves candidates with military backgrounds, because they’re significantly more likely to favor gun rights, due to their own experiences with them. Before you fall in love with him, know that he heartily supports Trump’s views on immigration, and was present at the infamous “shithole countries” meeting, after which he publicly denied that the President made those derogatory comments. Tom Cotton will be up for reelection in 2020.
Senator Perdue is one of the richest Senators in office, with a cool $30 million in the bank. He earned that money as an executive where he got a reputation for turning around the dire fates of numerous companies, including Sara Lee, Haggar, Reebok, Dollar General, and more. He follows the same tenets as most of the conservatives on this list, including a strong stance against gun control. David Perdue is scheduled for a reelection campaign in 2020.
Senator from Kansas for 11 years (+16 years in the House of Representatives)
NRA Funding: $1.58 million | NRA Rating: A
Personal Net Worth: $3,115,514 (as of 2015)
Pat Roberts Senate Website | Facebook | Twitter
81-year-old Roberts is a Marine veteran and a Trump-style Republican. He once referred to the notion of global warming as “condescending elitism.” Another time, he was severely chided for replying to a reporter’s question about revising mandated coverage in Obamacare with a snarky, “I wouldn’t want to lose my mammograms.” On the other hand, despite his strong standing with the NRA, he’s recently shown a little willingness to compromise. After the Orlando nightclub shooting, he voted yes to some new restrictions on background checks (a bill that was defeated), and following Stoneman Douglas, he shockingly came out in favor of establishing age limits on ownership of AR-15 assault rifles. Pat Roberts is up for reelection in 2020.
Senator from Pennsylvania for 7 years (+6 years in the House of Representatives)
NRA Funding: $1.46 million | NRA Rating: C
Personal Net Worth: $2,676,527 (as of 2015)
Pat Toomey Senate Website | Facebook | Twitter
The Sandy Hook shooting made an impact on Senator Pat Toomey. Formerly a gun rights advocate, following the tragedy he helped bring a bill to Congress that would have instituted background checks for the sale of most guns. (It didn’t get passed.) He hasn’t changed his position on the topic, which caused his NRA grade to drop from an A to a C. That didn’t stop the NRA from donating almost $1.5 million to his campaign, though. He’s expected to run for reelection in 2022.
Longtime businessman Johnson has a heavy interest in issues surrounding fiscal responsibility, never afraid to give his opinion publicly on the Federal budget, typically critical of increasing government spending. He did, however, vote “yes” to Trump’s $1 billion increase in the deficit last year. He has consistently voted against any and all gun control bills — no matter how mild. He’ll be up for reelection in 2022.
Across a long and storied political career that began in 1975, McConnell has racked up many, many exploits. By all accounts, he’s a keen-witted politician who seems to value whatever it takes to keep himself in office more than what’s best for the nation. His stance on gun rights is precisely what you’d expect it to be. Mitch McConnell is eligible for reelection in 2020.
As the only House Representative with NRA funding that exceeds $1 million, Mr. Hill is the NRA’s highest funded Congressman. He’s only in his second term, but like all Representatives, must be reelected every 2 years. That means he’ll be on the ballot this November.
You may have noticed that I included the net worth of each Senator, and if you did, you probably noticed a pattern that emerged.
Every one of them is a post-middle age white man — and one woman — and 76% of them are multi-millionaires. (The remaining 24% are still worth considerably more than the average American middle class.) That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most of them no doubt worked hard to earn their money.
Nonetheless, the fact remains that making big decisions for you and your family about gun control, healthcare, the environment, immigration, and more is a group made up almost entirely of rich, older white men. Think about the implications.
27 additional money whores, I mean politicians — all of whom are Republicans — have received amounts exceeding $100,000 from the NRA. About 225 more have received NRA funding at smaller amounts, and almost all of them are Republicans.
It’s time to exercise your American right to vote so that our children don’t have to fear for their lives every day they go to school, and citizens don’t have to worry about getting shot at public places like festivals, churches, movie theaters, or night clubs.